Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Questions (209)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

209. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if assistance will be provided to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 who has been in touch with his Department on several occasions and who requires medical treatment to address problems with a sacral nerve stimulator; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51057/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible. The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Drug Treatment Programmes Policy

Questions (210)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

210. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the reason for the delay in notifying the drugs task forces of their budget allocation for 2014; and if he will expedite this matter to enable all the drugs task forces to make the necessary arrangements with their various projects. [51058/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Decisions in relation to the allocations for Drugs Task Forces for 2014 will be notified within the next few days.

EU Directives

Questions (211)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

211. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if he intends to transpose EU Directive 2011/24 on patients' rights in cross border health care, if he will provide a time frame for its introduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51061/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Directive on Patients' Rights in Cross Border Healthcare provides rules for the reimbursement to patients' of the cost of receiving treatment abroad, where the patient would be entitled to such treatment in their home Member State (Member State of Affiliation) and supplements the rights that patients already have at EU level through the legislation on the coordination of social security schemes (regulation 883/04).

The Directive seeks to ensure a clear and transparent framework for the provision of cross-border healthcare within the EU, for those occasions where the care patients seek is provided in another Member State rather than in their home country. However, it should be emphasised that the vast majority of EU patients receive healthcare in their own country and prefer to do so.

The Department of Health is continuing to work on the necessary statutory provisions to fully implement the Directive. Nevertheless, there are arrangements in place in respect of the key provision of the Directive in relation to a national contact point (NCP), which has been set up within the HSE – the email address is crossborderdirective@hse.ie.

The principle function of the NCP is to facilitate exchange of information for patients concerning their rights and entitlements relating to receiving healthcare in another Member State, in particular the terms and conditions for reimbursement of cost, the procedures for accessing and determining those entitlements. The NCP also has a responsibility to ensure that all enquirers are informed of the rights, if any, that they may have through the legislation on the coordination of social security schemes (regulation 883/04) and which may be more beneficial to them. The NCP will be able to inform patients what the cost of their treatments would be in Ireland to allow them make a comparison with the costs they are being quoted for comparable treatment in another Member State.

While it has been possible to have these aspects of the NCP up and running by the 25th October on an administrative basis, it has not been possible to have prior authorisation or reimbursement operating on a statutory basis. The Department is working on the legal arrangements to put in place the statutory provisions for these systems and will be implementing them as soon as possible.

Further information on the Ireland's implementation of the Directive is available on the NCP's webpage: http://hse.ie/eng/services/list/1/schemes/cbd/CBD.html.

Hospital Appointment Status

Questions (212)

Robert Troy

Question:

212. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a hospital appointment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford. [51074/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Should a patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he or she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant and hospital involved. In relation to the specific hospital appointment query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Appointment Status

Questions (213)

Seán Fleming

Question:

213. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health when a hospital appointment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51097/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

For 2013, a maximum waiting time target of 12 months has been set for a first time consultant-led outpatient appointment and this is reflected in the HSE Service Plan. The SDU and the NTPF are working closely with hospitals towards achievement of the maximum waiting time. Should a patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he or she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant and hospital involved. In relation to the specific hospital appointment query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Road Tolls

Questions (214)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

214. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will lobby the British Government to exempt the N2/A5 routes and other essential cross-Border connections from the newly proposed HGV levy which would damage the haulage industry North and South. [50900/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Since 1999 various EU directives have set common rules on distance-related tolls and time-based user charges (vignettes) for HGVs for the use of certain infrastructure. It is open to any Member State to introduce road use charges if it wishes. Road charging is an important revenue source option in relation to funding of roads infrastructure, particularly in the context of ensuring that out of state hauliers contribute to the costs of a country’s road infrastructure.

In respect of the United Kingdom's introduction of road charging, I have been in contact with my counterpart there, in response to the initial public consultation and more recently, to point out the difficulties this will create for Republic of Ireland hauliers, especially those in the border area. Furthermore, I asked that the contribution made to date, and planned future contributions, by the Government to road infrastructure costs in Northern Ireland (namely to the A5 in Northern Ireland) should be taken into account and some provision be made for Irish-registered HGVs.  The UK Minister has responded, indicating a willingness to consider certain regional cross-border specified roads in Northern Ireland. He has not proposed inclusion of the A5. However I have yet to receive a formal proposal from him in this regard.

My officials continue to liaise with their UK counterparts on this issue. Any influence that the Deputy can bring to bear on the UK authorities through his party colleagues in the Northern Ireland Executive or those elected to the House of Commons would of course be welcome.

Road Network

Questions (215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221)

Gerry Adams

Question:

215. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has discussed the provision of funding for the Narrow Water Bridge project with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in view of the hundreds of jobs that this project would create; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50923/13]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

216. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he discussed the decision by the SEUPB to withdraw its letter of offer from the Narrow Water Bridge project with that body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50924/13]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

217. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has discussed the decision by the SEUPB to withdraw its letter of offer from the Narrow Water Bridge project with Louth County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50925/13]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

218. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has discussed the decision by the SEUPB to withdraw its letter of offer from the Narrow Water Bridge project with the Taoiseach; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50926/13]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

219. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has discussed the decision by the SEUPB to withdraw its letter of offer from the Narrow Water Bridge project with the Executive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50927/13]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

220. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No 723, in which he states that the Government would not have been in a position to provide a further €10 million towards this project, if he will indicate where he got this figure from; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50928/13]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

221. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding the Government is prepared to release to help address the shortfall in funding for the Narrow Water Bridge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50929/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 215 to 221, inclusive, together.

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for each local authority.

The Irish Government supported the original decision by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) to approve the allocation of EU funding to the Narrow Water bridge project and committed an upfront funding contribution of €3.9 million in January this year. The funding which was to be provided by my Department for the Narrow Water Bridge Project represented a significant commitment given the current financial circumstances. This funding contribution was due to be matched with a contribution from the Northern Ireland authorities in line with the agreed funding ratios for the Programme.  

The Government was disappointed that the tender process resulted in a doubling of the initial estimated cost budgeted for by the project partners for the construction of the bridge. The Government has indicated on many occasions that it would be willing to help to address the shortfall in funding for the Narrow Water Bridge, but this depended entirely on matching contributions from the other parties, including the Northern Ireland Executive. Also, we could not agree to be solely responsible for any further overruns.  

As the Deputy will be aware, as part of the recovery programme that this Government has had to pursue to put the country back on its feet, unfortunately, there will be a further reduction in regional and local roads spending in 2014 of over €60 million. Ultimately it is from this budget that any additional funding from this State would have had to come and we would not have been in a position to provide a further €10 million towards this project as well as to underwrite any potential further overspend. The estimated figure of a requirement from my Department of €10 million was based on correspondence received from SEUPB and Louth County Council. Given the significant difference between the initial estimates and the returned tender prices, the Deputy will appreciate the need to take a conservative approach to the funding requests.  

The progression and importance of this project has been discussed with my government colleagues and on a number of occasions at the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) most recently on the 8th of November. The priority is to avoid the loss of the EU funding involved. As the Deputy will be aware, members of the party that he leads are members of the  Northern Ireland Executive and of the NSMC. 

It is important to note that there are time constraints with regard to the INTERREG funding. It has to be spent by 2015. SEUPB has now decided to withdraw the letter of offer and has indicated that it proposes to re-allocate the funding to eligible projects capable of being delivered before the end of 2015. I know that officials in my Department and the Department for Regional Development have identified possible replacement projects, that will benefit cross-border communication in the transport sector and will be working up proposals for consideration by SEUPB.